I recently read a list of ways to make your life really awesome. It was probably on Thought Catalog or something; those writers tend to have a lot of lists about what makes a good life or a bad life.
Anyway, one of the items was actually worthwhile: talk to strangers. Traveling on a long flight? Talk to the person sitting next to you. Get their story. Where are they going? Where have they been?
I kept that in mind when I rode an Amtrak train that felt like it took an eternity to get through the cornfields of central Illinois a few weeks ago.
As I double-checked where the train was going with the women in line to board in front of me, their eyes widened when I asked if the train was southbound, toward Carbondale.
“I don’t know about Carbondale,” one of them laughed. “We’re headed to New Orleans.”
I stuffed the normal shy girl in my back pocket and asked how long of a ride they had ahead of them. Nineteen hours.
“We came up for a little weekend adventure. It’ll never happen again.”
The women were in their mid-40s, I would guess. They wore oversized T-shirts with gaudy Mardi Gras logos on them. I wanted to talk to them so much more, but they seemed like future versions of me: two quiet women who just want to get out of their hometown for a weekend to do something different, but nothing too extravagant. Sight-seeing, doing all the free things the city can offer.
That’s the kind of life I want to live. Grab a friend, pick a city, and go. See things I’ve never seen, talk to people I’d never normally talk to.